An agenda item of the Woodland Public Library Board of Trustees meeting of August 4, 2008, considered immediate prospects for renovating a very large room – approximately 2000 square feet (55’ by 36’) –  left unfinished and vacant since the Library’s expansion in 1988.


Amazingly, for the previous twenty years, during which time Woodland’s population has vastly increased, greatly stretching library facilities and resources, this key library space has remained unused. It consists of the ground floor of the 1988 expansion area, adjacent to the Leake Room, extending to the library’s southwestern corner, and opening upon its interior plaza.


This enormous room includes a vertical opening, an uncovered, vaulted-skylight feature, serving to illuminate one side; while, along the opposite wall (parallel to Court St.), about forty feet away, there is a row of windows which continue, wrapping around the room’s southeast corner, facing along the unused, southern entryway to the library’s plaza space.


____    Library Board Explores Potential Mini-Expansion    ____


Board members examined various matters related to bringing into use this undeveloped space. Its only contents are few tables and chairs, some commemorative, decorative glass blocks and several sets of library book-shelves, which were over-supplied because of differences in scale (an error) between components of building plans during the 1988 expansion.


An advantage now appears through procurement of an excess of shelves, however, since they match existing library shelves, something difficult to accomplish at quarter-century intervals, and they can be well used following the library’s planned, 10,000 square foot expansion, which is due sometime between 2011 and 2016. The current issue is what to do with them, until then.


Woodland Public Library’s new Librarian, Sandra Briggs, has embarked on a much needed project of clean-up and re-organization within certain library facilities, which is the origin of this agenda item. The Library Board recently accomplished an extensive tour and evaluation of the building, connected with updating its Strategic Plan, and Briggs and other Library employees have achieved an overdue straightening-up of several nooks and crannies in this 103 year-old structure, the oldest operative Carnegie Library in California.


Board members were of a consensus regarding immediate attention to prospects of developing this key space, voicing hopes that within a year or 18 months, the size of the library would effectively increase by about 10%, as well as enhancing use by patrons of the library’s interior plaza / courtyard.


“The public likes the library building,” observed a board member, “and if we take care of it, it will take care of us.”


____    City Council Involvement    ____


At its September 16, 2008, meeting the Woodland City Council will receive formal notice of such an intention / request during a regular report from the Library Board, which is evaluating various sources of funds for this impromptu, mini-expansion project.


A prominent, potential source of funding is the stream of money created by Measure E, the 2006 municipal ballot-initiative, whereby an added increment of sales tax raises funds designated by advisory authority (avoiding a 2/3 ballot approval, which it barely fell short of achieving) to be applied in various, specified allotments for roads and infrastructure, the new community – senior center, the library, the opera house and city hall.


Approving expenditure of Measure E funds requires a 4/5 vote of the Woodland City Council. Library Board members expressed that they wouldn’t desire delay in the Library’s next major expansion, attributable to such a use of Measure E money; while, they recognized the huge benefit derivable from instant attention to this long dormant, 2000 square foot space.


In addition to Measure E funds, a partial source of money for this library mini-expansion may be found in the fact that careful management of revenue, committed to the current renovation of library windows and exterior details, may have resulted in an estimated savings of about $70,000, according to Librarian Briggs, who added, “we’ll know the actual details sometime soon.”


Librarian Briggs has begun to work with Woodland’s former Mayor, Dave Flory, toward aligning some appropriate consultancy role from Yolo Community College’s Small Business Assistance Program, for orchestrating community outreach designed to produce a public consensus on specific uses for this new space, and to support eventual approval by Woodland City Council.


____    Potential Uses For This New Library Space    ____


Librarian Briggs contemplates that one the best uses for this new space would be a renewed and re-designed computer zone. This would allow most of the library’s (popular and proliferating) computers to be relocated away from the main entrance and primary lobby of the library, where windows looking down onto the interior plaza are presently blocked by a bank of computer desks and their contents.


One interested patron was heard to remark, “How wonderful the library has this many computers. Its too bad it doesn’t have a good place to put them.”


Also, current problems of occasional social-noise and other interactions associated with some computer-oriented patrons, as well as distractions from the usual front-desk discussions, may through this approach suddenly become resolvable. Various areas designed to accommodate a divergence of computer uses (e.g., both a computer-game center and an ultra-quiet region) may thus be created.


Coincidently, the library’s electrical infrastructure relevant to computers is located within the northern wall of this new space, which increases service convenience by reducing extension of such connections to the library’s main lobby.


Of course, library staffing for such an expansion remains a significant challenge, for which some creative address may become achievable, hopes Librarian Briggs.


Librarian Briggs views an important convergence existing between some computer uses, such as relevant games, and the most underserved sector of the library’s demographic base, teenagers.


A part of Woodland Public Library’s updated outreach program is to discover successful ways to persuade teenagers that it is a “cool” place to be, to hang-around in, and such a focus on computer-games may well serve as an initial platform for introducing teenagers to the Library’s many other valuable resources.


This approach is being encouraged by the latest trends within analyses of library patronage. So, Librarian Briggs also conceives of a “teen-center” type of district within the new room, proximate to this potential, computer-gaming area. This space opening directly onto the library’s interior plaza, she believes, is an aesthetically compelling and beneficial aspect of these uses, and that library plaza use in general should vastly expand through development of this large new room, upon which overall library use is now being determined to be better facilitated.